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Black light dash illumination

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  • Black light dash illumination

    I suspect this may have been addressed in an earlier discussion. If so, please direct me to it.

    Can the radium be restored on the gauges or would it be better to remove the blacklight filters and install a rheostat? Any experience with vendors who can restore the radium function?

  • #2
    When I was a kid,one major employer in town was Westclox.They made clocks with radium 'hands' The hands were painted by hand-mostly women on this job-from what i've always been told.
    When their paint brushes got out of shape,they licked them to straighten them up.- high rate of cancer back then,I lost a mother-in law and a sister-in-law that both worked in that factory 'till it closed. [sorry this may be a bit off topic-but I just had to tell this story!!!]

    LaSalle,Il
    61Hawk
    60Lark
    Oglesby,Il.

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    • #3
      I've never found an entirely satisfactory solution to this problem. Prying off the bezels on the instruments is iffy at best, and you need to get all the way inside to get to the 'garnet' hoods on the bulbs. I know of no radium repair service, and I'm not sure I want to support and ongoing demand for those services anyway...

      I use a magnetic base battery powered reading light (like the itty bitty book lamp or a Coleman tent light) which sticks to the steering column. It looks like hell but gets the job done at night-- and can be tossed into the glove box where it lives 99% of the time...

      51 Commander State Sedan

      Kittanning, PA

      51 Commander State Sedan
      Butler PA

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      • #4
        quote:Originally posted by rockne10

        I suspect this may have been addressed in an earlier discussion. If so, please direct me to it.

        Can the radium be restored on the gauges or would it be better to remove the blacklight filters and install a rheostat? Any experience with vendors who can restore the radium function?
        The "black light" instruments are just what their name implies; the gauges are screened with an ink that fluoresces under ultraviolet light. Think Dayglo Jimi Hendrix posters[8D] There is no radium involved. A true radium dial, such as is found on my Weasel will glow in the dark without ANY light input, because the radiation from the radium triggers the phosphors to glow. If the Stude instrument panels included radium, they wouldn't need the purple glass filters on the lamps.

        I believe the problem with these panels is twofold: first the paint that makes up the numbers has become brown and oxidized, and simply less effective at making light when subjected to UV. Second, the glass filters may have a coating of dust that reduces the available UV.

        What I'd be tempted to do is to take out the speedometer (a fairly easy job) and shine a fluorescent black light on it, and see if it glows brilliantly. If so, then maybe an improved UV source would fix things. If not, then one would either have to repaint the gauges with fluorescent paint (no radium, just dyes), or go with white light, and remove the filters.

        I do have some old instruments out of a '51 Champion at home. I'll try them with a black light and see what happens.

        BTW, "black light" LEDS are now available. A bunch of them might be just what the doctor ordered.

        Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
        Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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